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Samizdat Past+Present
edited by Tomáš Glanc
translated by Melvyn Clarke
Karolinum Press, 2019
eISBN: 978-80-246-4039-6 | Paper: 978-80-246-4033-4

Much of what we now consider the canon of twentieth-century Czech literature—the work of authors like Bohumil Hrabal, Ludvík Vaculík, and Jáchym Topol, among many others—has, in fact, just recently become widely available to readers. Long published only in censored form or in secret among political dissidents, this body of underground literature is collectively known as samizdat. Samizdat Past and Present provides an expert introduction to these writings and their history, offering insight into both the current wave of literary rediscovery and translation and contemporary debates over censorship. In a diverse array of chapters, Tomáš Glanc gathers together texts from representative figures of Czech samizdat and underground culture of the 1960s to ’80s and provides a useful comparison of Czech, Polish, and Russian samizdat. From literary historians to former samizdat publishers and writers with firsthand experience of communist censorship, secret police, fake trials, and imprisonment, the authors of Samizdat Past and Present illuminate the complexities of a literature written under censorship and the struggle for freedom of thought in a totalitarian regime.

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